Bhopal (India), June 06: The fundamentalist Hindutv forces under the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in the central India state of Madhya Pradesh seem to have become power drunk and gone berserk in the state. This is borne by the fact that they have now temerity to flex muscles and attempt to brow-beat the minorities into submission and gag freedom of speech.
An incidence in Bhopal that occurred on Monday proves the above contention when activists of the Bajrang Dal led by Bhopal district convener Devendra Rawat stormed into the venue of a Press conference here wherein Ms Indira Iyengar, a member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minorities Commission and president of Madhya Pradesh Christian Association, was addressing media persons. At the fag end of the press conference, Bajrang Dal goons barged in and their leader, Devendra Rawat threatened Ms Iyenger of dire consequences if she named Hindu organizations in cases of rape and violence against the Christian community.
When contacted today by this correspondent Ms Iyengar said that after yesterday`s incidence the Madhya Pradesh Government has done nothing and not even provided her personal security.
Ms Iyengar was presenting two tribal women, who were allegedly gang-raped in Naadia village of Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, before newsmen. The activists attempted to prevent her from holding the Press conference. Ms Iyengar and Rawat had a verbal duel and newsmen had to intervene to calm them down. After arguing with the convener for few minutes, Ms Iyengar left the place.
Later, Rawat apologized to the journalists but remained firm in his stand against conversion carried out by the Christian missionaries. The convener even alleged that the Christian missionaries were promoting conversion by luring the poor with employment and other benefits and declared that he would expose their misdeeds to acquaint people with reality. He accused Ms Iyengar of tarnishing the Bajrang Dal`s image and also that of the BJP. Rawat fulminated against Christians, alleging that Christian organizations were getting foreign funds to malign Hindutv outfits. He also paraded a 'Hindu' couple, claiming they were forcibly converted into Christianity. He said the Bajrang Dal would systematically oppose such activities and will be ready to make any sacrifice for this 'cause'.
Earlier, Ms Iyengar had alleged that minorities were harassed during the BJP rule and offenders were being protected. Even no case was registered in the gang-rape case. She said that Khargone BJP MLA Dal Singh Solanki had instigated his cohorts to rape the two Christian women. Solanki had repeatedly been threatening Christians in the region of falsely implicating in conversion attempt.She said instead of promptly registering an FIR against the culprits, the police ill-treated the rape victims. The victims and their families had been repeatedly threatened of dire consequences, she added. Both victims were present in the press conference. Ms Iyengar added that she had submitted a memorandum to the Madhya Pradesh Governor, alleging that incidents of violence against Christians were on the rise in the State but the Shivraj Chouhan Government was doing nothing to protect the minority community. She urged the Governor to intervene and direct the State Government to take action or else dismiss the Government.
She said she would also write to Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh, Federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Congress president Sonia Gandhi as to how Christians were being persecuted at the behest of saffron outfits.
Later, Ms Iyengar in a letter requested Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Swaraj Puri to register a case against Rawat and his associates. She had also sought police protection pleading that the religious bigots could cause her harm.
Governor Dr. Balram Jakhar has intervened and directed the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) to furnish a detailed report of the incident and provide police protection to Iyengar.
Meanwhile, the BJP-ruled MP Government has disapproved of the attempt by the Bajrang Dal workers to `disrupt` a press conference organized by Ms Iyengar to highlight the `atrocities` on Christians during the BJP rule.
``Nobody has the right to disturb the Press meet if such an incident took place``, Public Relations Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters after claiming that he had no information about such an incident. ``Such an incident should not have happened``, he said. Asked what the BJP Government wanted to convey with such frequent incidents, Tomar said the Government was going ahead with its plans to achieve its intended aim.
Meanwhile, the chairman of MP State Minorities Commission Anwar Mohammed Khan, speaking about the incident said that the Commission would surely take requisite action in the matter if Ms Indira Iyengar reported the matter to it. He even affirmed that suo moto action could also be taken but Iyengar should bring the matter to the notice of the Commission.
According to Inspector General of Police Sanjeev Kumar Singh, necessary action would be initiated against the culprits on receipt of the complaint. He even assured that Ms Iyengar would be provided police protection if she sought it.
Meanwhile, Catholic Church Madhya Pradesh has accused the Khargone administration of not making arrests in connection with the alleged rape of two women at village Nadia in the district under pressure from Hindutva outfits.
Spokesperson for the Church Fr. Anand Muttungal alleged victims were being pressurized to eschew Christian faith and brace Hinduism instead. But, when they did not agree, they were allegedly kidnapped and raped. Condemning the incident, Muttungal demanded immediate arrest of the guilty and a fair inquiry into the incident.
Archbishop of Bhopal diocese Fr. Pascal Topno has also expressed dismay over the incident and demanded immediate steps to check activities of such anti-social activities. Meanwhile, DIG Khargone Vipin Maheshwari said no arrests had yet been made in the alleged Bhagwanpura gang rape case. He said the investigation is on. Since there were many allegations and counter allegations, detailed investigation would be conducted before further action is taken, he added.
Notably, the Congress-led Federal Government had in the recent past asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to conduct an "on the spot assessment" of complaints of atrocities on Christians in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan - all ruled by BJP. (Pervez Bari)